I have seen a lot of motivational memes lately with the two words above – Keep Going. It can be quite frustrating when not knowing where we are heading with our lives seemed to be the challenge we are faced with at the moment. How do we actually find our purpose in all that is going on in our lives?
On the other hand, we commemorated the World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2016. If you have been reading and seen numerous posts regarding suicides and the likes on your social media feed, it is because of all the awareness that is being raised in conjunction with World Mental Health Day.
For me personally, after a year of “running” and hard work, there is a period of downtime that I find it hard to get used to. Throughout the first 11 months of the year, we sprinted, kept busy, and out of a sudden, there is this time that is all quiet.
Throughout the year we have different goals to achieve in our tasks but as the fiscal year draw to a close, everyone seemed to have dropped everything and gone off to have their well deserved break.
It is during times like these that we might feel empty – there is no more goals and purposes in the horizon. We might even feel a little inadequate and incompetent. The mind is suddenly idled with nothing much to think about. Have you ever felt this way?
And when the new year starts to pick up again, we struggle to get the sluggish brain restarted and that’s when it is important to “keep going”. We have to remind ourselves again that in order for us to attain what is desired, it is very important to put it into motion. The proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is indeed describes it accurately.
In between going into the downtime and getting out of it. Some of us may start to feel a little depressed and some even more extreme – suicidal due to the feeling of hopelessness, purposeless, incompetent, and inadequate.
I recently read an article regarding the 26% suicidal rate in young working adults in a particular country citing their jobs being the cause of their desperation. It made me wonder if there was a huge disparity in the job markets and career expectations.
When I first started off my career, there were a few hits and misses. Because we spend most of our lives at work to provide for ourselves and our family, it is difficult not to take one’s job seriously. And that’s when it becomes a challenge. My first few jobs were disastrous because I did not have a clear vision of my purpose. Very often, I was caught in between very difficult situations and deciding whether to quit and at the same time accuse myself of being weak – the guilt trip. There were many doubtful moments – whether I was making the right decisions and also the dilemma of wanting to just keep going even though it was clear that I was very unhappy. To make matters worse, in one of my jobs, I was with a team that discusses nothing but quitting on a daily basis. In this case and sadly, the manager was the main reason why everyone wanted to leave.
In the end, I can only conclude that difficult managers, the nature of the job, and whatever the reason it is that makes people dislike their jobs are not the root causes of people feeling lousy. These are merely symptoms of the underlying problem.
It all boils down to just one thing – PURPOSE.
A person with a clear vision will have a purpose – that is to work towards achieving the vision. A good leader will gear his or her people towards one common goal. In large projects, leaders will be able to break things down into modules and allow his team to achieve each module in sequence. Collectively, the project will be delivered efficiently. Every team member will have a sense of purpose going into the project and when it ends, they will be able to feel proud of their achievements whether it is as an individually or as a team.
I know that there are many factors that cause one to contemplate suicide but I am just thinking out loud and wondering if it is the lack of purpose that drives people to such desperation.
My favorite quote by Albert Einstein that I live by is his definition of insanity and I quote, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. I believe when we are trapped in a certain thought process, without clarity and alternative perspectives, it can be very crippling and frustrating at the same time. In fact, our minds have the tendency to suggest what it knows best given its familiarity. As we grow, our minds are like a sponge absorbing all the experiences, the likes and dislikes, the pains, the knowledge, and etc. We do make our best decisions based on past experiences be it good or bad. In other words, we could be stuck in a particular thought process for a very long time based on its capacity to reason at any specific time. Every situation we face serves as an opportunity for us to learn new experiences and we should be bold to try out new solutions to obtain different results.
If you look at wild animals caged in the zoo, you will notice their very peculiar behavior of circling and pacing around in an almost perfect path and rhythm. I believe that they have lost their natural purpose – hunting, foraging, and etc causing them to exhibit such behavior in sheer boredom.
As for me, I am trying to convince myself to enjoy the downtime and spend some time focusing on things which are out of my work routine like writing this piece to share and express my thoughts. I have learned that the best way to break out of the negative thoughts when it starts is to distract myself by doing or seeing happy and positive things.
Just a side note: If you are feeling a little depressed please reach out for help. There are many ways in which you can seek help. You can reach out to a counseling psychologist (example – http://lepak.com/therapy.html). There are some who practices over the internet using various on-line chats and collaboration tools such as Skype so location and timezone should not be an issue.